Thursday, July 6, 2023

On Majors in College

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Education

Ed Hessler

I encouraging you to read "Sociobiology: So You want to be a Biology Professor," an occasional blog by Joan E. Strassmann, Washington University, St. Louis.

No, you may not want to be a biology professor or a biology major, her essay is about advising undergraduates in which she "encourages them to get to know themselves." Of course, she checks in whether they are meeting distribution requirements, requirements for graduation, and what they plan to take. She does what her entries always do: make you think. 

After this - I suspect most students think they are about to be dismissed - she starts "with the famous Terry Gross questions, the open-ended 'Tell me about yourself.." Students are surprised but the question has a way of opening a conversation which also shows that the student is being listened to by a professor interested in her/him.

You may have noticed that today undergraduate students wear their multiple majors as achievements, e.g.,  "two majors and a minor if possible," which leaves them "no freedom to choose" (what's left). She favors some exploration while students are undergraduates. She includes comments on how she talks with students she advises.

She closes with "So I don’t have much of an opinion as to whether you should take physics or organic chemistry this year, but I do know you have a lot of work to do understanding the person behind your eyes."

We all do.

Her website includes access to her laboratory website where her research is described as well as what her current students have chosen to investigate, the sociobiology blog (home of the most recent entry, described above) and to the department of biology you may also learn more about her and her graduate student group.

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